Dem Bones...Dem Bones...

I may have mentioned that in preparation for my greyhound parenthood I bought and read every book about greyhounds that I could find. This bordered on the fanatical. OK, so it crossed the line into the fanatical.

So when Girly Girl came home I had a pretty good store of book learnin’ from which to draw. That isn’t to say I didn’t make mistakes. Plenty. I have $2000 worth of damage to my bathroom from the time I “felt bad” and decided to put Girly Girl in the bathroom instead of her crate. All the books said don’t do this. Your greyhound will feel safe in her crate but will feel anxious in a larger space such as enclosed room. Eh, what could they know about MY specific dog? What could they know about Girly Girl. She’s a steel core, brave, feisty little tiger. It turns out, they knew a lot.

I continued collecting and reading books. I broadened my subject matter. I got books on canine allergies, vaccinations, raw diets, behavior and body language, health and cancer. By the time I brought my second greyhound, Blue, home, I knew a whole lot more. And even still, I have many, many more books waiting to be read.

All this knowledge can be a great thing. It saves you a lot of time and trouble and heartache (when you pay attention to it). It can also be a double edged sword. Every time your hound gets a sneeze or a belly issue, or a hiccup, you imagine all sorts of horrible diseases because you’ve read all about the terrible things that can befall your beloved greyhound

I’ve been through blood tests with Girly Girl for a non-existent flu. I went through serious emotional distress and blood tests, an abdominal ultrasound and various tick panels for an as yet undiagnosed digestive tract malady with Blue that disappeared as mysteriously as it came but which had me, and the vet fearing liver disease by it’s symptoms. Don’t ask me about the bills for these excursions.

So when Girly Girl started limping in early December, all my reading immediately put me on high alert. Greyhound. Limp. Must be cancer. Most normal people would, of course, assume their dog pulled a muscle and, when it didn’t heal, take the dog to the vet. Unfortunately, when you’re a greyhound owner who’s done any reading at all on the breed, you know that one in three racing greyhounds will get cancer. And that the cancer generally manifests itself as osteosarcoma of a long bone, generally the leg. You also know that one of the first visible symptoms, if you get any warning before a broken leg, is an unexplained limp. So see? Knowledge = Double Edged Sword.

When Girly Girl’s limp did not seem to resolve, off we went to the vet. We love our vet and Dr. Edelbaum poked and prodded her. She asked me a lot of questions. She took Girly Girl’s temperature about which GG was quite indignant. Based on the lack of any symptoms otherwise, Dr. Edelbaum felt she had an orthopedic problem. Since we have such a great relationship with Dr. Edelbaum, she was willing to entertain my concern about cancer and since I was the one writing the checks she agreed to schedule an appointment for x-rays.

A couple days later I dropped my sweet girl off for her x-rays early in the morning. Since they would anesthetize her this involved preparation. She could have no food after 8pm the night before. That meant no “night-night” snack. That did not go over well. It also meant no breakfast or water in the morning. When I had to leave her with the technician she tried to turn and follow me back out. The look she gave me made me turn and leave quickly before I broke into tears in the vets lobby.

I sat on pins and needles all morning since this was the first time since she had come to live with me that she was going to be under anesthesia. I had an appointment to pick her up at 4:30p and to discuss the results of the x-rays with Dr. Edelbaum. Just after lunchtime I got an unexpected call from Dr. Edelbaum. Initially I was in a panic fearing something had gone wrong while she was under sedation. While I was busy worrying about that, Dr. Edelbaum just dropped the bomb on me. There was a lesion on Girly Girl’s left elbow. It appears to be a tumor, suspected osteosarcoma. The dog of my heart, the furry love of my life has cancer on her elbow. Congratulations. My instincts were right.

Now my vet wasn’t as unfeeling as all that, but honestly I heard cancer, elbow, instincts were right and early. Beyond that I know she was talking but I have no idea what she said. She made me write down a number and reading it later I saw that I had written the word biopsy next to it. When I called the number, it was for a veterinary referral service, or so they said. When I told them what I wanted, they set us up for an appointment for the next week.

I spent the rest of the afternoon desperate to see my sweet baby girl again. I must have called Dr. Edelbaum’s office five or six times in hopes of picking her up early. In the end they did not let me do that. I also spent the time crying and thinking about all the things we wouldn’t have together. How unfair it all was. How much she didn’t deserve this after all she’d been through in her short life. I wondered how I would ever pull myself together to do whatever it was that we must do next.

Oh dem bones. We think so little about them until we have to and then they’re all we think about. Say a little prayer for Girly Girl if you are a praying person. Consider reading a book or two because while knowledge can be a double edged sword, the alternative is most certainly worse.